Memories then and now

By Jim Bucher

As the dog days of summer approach and the cicadas make music in the muggy August air, it’s a sure sign that our hometown fair is upon us.

Yep, the 164th edition of the Montgomery County Fair is this week, Aug. 31 – Sept. 5.

You know me, the local history buff, of course, has fond memories of the six-day fun fest with rides, games, animals, demo derby, harness racing, circus, and fantastic fair food ready for devouring.

Back in the day, it was a time of mixed emotions. Summer was ending, and school began the Tuesday after Labor Day.

A catch-22, if you will.

But what is it about the sights, sounds, and smells of a county fair that stirs the juices within?

Part is knowing this is the way it was over 160 years ago, that folks back then gathered to meet neighbors and friends, just like today.

Also, not so far back then, my buddies and I rode rides all day. Not into that as much now, but a great view from the Ferris Wheel is second to none.

And the fair at dusk is a sight to behold, with the rides lit up begging you to come partake and bright florescent bulbs screaming, steak sandwiches, dogs, burgers, Italian sausage, elephant ears, and the killer mini-fried donuts.

To be clear, the Montgomery County Fair will call its one-and-only home this year and next, but dates change in 2017 to July 10-15.

In 2018, who knows? But at press time, the Montgomery County Agricultural Society, which oversees the fairgrounds, is exploring a possible relocation to Huber Heights, the land behind North Park Center and Gander Mountain, Old Troy Park, and I-70. Although it’s far from a done deal.

For now, it’s time to enjoy the final couple of years on the historic grounds.

I say historic because this is where people sought refuge during the 1913 flood heading to higher ground.

Also, the original grandstands remain. It’s where thousands flocked to see Orville and Wilbur Wright as Dayton celebrated the brothers’ homecoming from France with a parade. Now, that’s history.

Years ago, my Dayton Daily News buddy Dale Huffman and yours truly would meet on opening day every year for a decade. We’d witness the ribbon cutting, chat with the crowd, then inevitably end up at Dominic’s or Duke’s Golden Ox across the street for an adult beverage.

Dale was always on the lookout for stories and once came across an 80-something young lady who attended opening day every year for 80 years. I’ll have to peruse the DDN achieves one of these days to locate the particulars.

So many people, though, still make the fair an annual tradition.

Angi says, “I loved going with my youngest daughter. I could never get my oldest to go. But we had great times. This year I am taking my 3-year-old granddaughter.”

Generations enjoying the fair.

Ron writes, “Remember the owner of Woody’s Market buying the prize animals and seeing them in the meat case a few days later. I worked the guess-your-weight-and-age booth. Still good at it. Guys would give me a few bucks to low-ball their girlfriends weight or age.”

Lawrence simply says, “I love fairs.”

And Noni remembers, “Liberal Market’s was also a big hog buyer.”

Wanda writes, “My most vivid memory of the Montgomery County Fair is when I was nine-years-old. My girlfriend and I went on the Tilt-a-Whirl, and there were some teenage girls riding. The operator, a young guy, was trying to impress them. He made it spin so fast that it took my breath away. Literally, I could not breathe. I never rode that ride again until I was a teenager.”

Finally, can’t forget what it’s all about—the 4H youngsters who work so hard all year grooming their show animals. You have to check out the results and support these wonderful young people.”

John Friedline, president of the Montgomery County Agricultural Society, says it best: “We invite everyone to come, relive past memories, and make new ones. You’ll be glad you did.”

Just thought of something – this will be the final year for the fair on Labor Day weekend. Kind of sad, but excited for the future fairgrounds.

Just make sure the mini-fried donut guy is there.

Cheers and see ‘ya next week.


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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at

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